Expats Around the World: Liz Brown

Buffalo Business First staff report

Liz Brown is a University at Buffalo graduate who now lives in Philadelphia and is active in the startup community. (Image courtesy Liz Brown)

In her “About” box on LinkedIn, Liz Brown describes herself as a catalyst for change.

The University at Buffalo graduate now lives in Philadelphia.

She founded Design Jawn, a creative studio and think tank, and is also a partner and chief experience officer of BCK Group.

Brown wasn’t born in Buffalo, but she said her time in Western New York holds a special place in her heart and left a lasting impression.

She found her way to the startup and tech scene via urban planning and has her hand in a lot that’s happening in the sector, in Philadelphia and beyond.

What is BCK Group and what do you do? What kind of work does the company do for clients?

BCKG is a design thinking consultancy that helps forward-thinking startups, organizations and government agencies unpack problems and identify effective solutions.

How about Design Jawn? Where did that idea come from?

Design Jawn is a think tank and consultancy that provides thought leadership and curated experiences that support inclusive innovation, leadership, growth and momentum. I launched Design Jawn as a part of my own personal journey balancing self care and entrepreneurship. Overall, I aim to support underestimated founders including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and individuals coming from low-income backgrounds.

How did you become entrenched in the technology and startup communities?

I learned to code as a hobby when I was around 14 years old and I started working with startups as a teenager when my father and two uncles launched an online platform. After graduating from UB with a master’s degree in urban planning, I moved to Philadelphia and worked as a neighborhood coordinator.

When I was furloughed from my job I was in the middle of wrapping up a second graduate degree in information design and technology. With a background in both tech and urban planning, it just made sense that I’d get heavily involved in doing what I can to support the innovation ecosystem.

I make it my business to support others because that’s just my nature.

Brown, far right, speaks during a panel discussion. (Image courtesy Liz Brown)

Did you have an entrepreneurial spirit while in Buffalo?

I actually grew up in Kingston, N.Y., down in the Hudson Valley. I had transferred from Syracuse University to attend UB for my undergraduate study and continued graduate study there as well.

I’d say I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit in me since I was a child.

What are some of your favorite memories of Western New York?

I spent the better part of the 2000s living in Buffalo. Of all the decisions that I’ve made over the years, one thing I’ll never regret is the time I spent at UB.

I still believe there’s no better value than UB offers as a part of the SUNY system, with Division I sports and a high quality research institute.

Another thing that stands out in my memory are the concert series in Canalside and the easy access to Niagara Falls.

Brown, center, meets with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. (Image courtesy Liz Brown)

Have you experienced how Buffalo and the region have changed the past decade? Would you ever consider moving back or getting involved from afar in what’s happening here?

I’ve visited several times since graduating. So much has changed for the better and I’d love to move back to Buffalo if an opportunity presented itself.

What did you think when you first heard there was an event like Buffalo Homecoming?

Buffalo Homecoming sounds like a great opportunity to reconnect and find new ways to get involved in what’s happening in Buffalo.

For more on Liz, visit her personal website, follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.